Employee Burnout: How To Address It And Promote Wellness

Employee Burnout: How To Address It And Promote Wellness

This article discusses the effects of employee burnout and the ways employers can address it. It also provides tips on how to promote employee wellness in the workplace.

Over the past two years, workload, anxiety, and fear of losing employment have had a negative impact on employee morale, resulting in burnout. According to Gartner’s Research, 85% of employees report higher levels of burnout and 40% have experienced a decline in their work-life balance since the beginning of the health crisis. Employee burnout has become a serious topic in the modern workplace because of the negative effects it has on a person’s mental and physical health.

When employees experience burnout, their performance declines, resulting in low levels of productivity. As organizations continue to embrace remote and hybrid work, managing employee wellbeing in a disrupted workplace has become essential to boost productivity, increase competitive edge, and enjoy high returns. Keep reading to learn how employers can address employee burnout and promote wellness in the workplace.

Understanding employee burnout and its impact

Burnout is a combination of emotional and physical signs of stress and exhaustion. Typically, burnout occurs when work demand exceeds one’s capabilities or when resources aren’t available to complete a task. There are several factors that trigger burnout in the workplace. This includes poor work-life balance, lack of employee support, excess work demands, and dysfunctional workplace systems.

The effects of employee burnout include poor physical and mental health, resulting in reduced engagement and poor performance. This means the overall productivity of an employee declines significantly. Burnout also affects the health of employees, as it increases the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, sleep disturbance, and substance abuse. Besides affecting employee mental and physical health, burnout can take a toll on business finances. Increased employee turnover makes companies lose their competitive edge.

Know the signs of burnout in the workplace

To address burnout issues, employers need to acknowledge the warning signs that a worker is under performance pressure or feeling emotionally stressed. Signs of employee burnout include disengagement or detachment from work, snapping at team members, and delivering poor quality of work. When employees experience burnout, they also look tired and stressed, develop a habit of holding grudges, and dwell a lot on unresolved matters during meetings.

Talk about burnout openly

A sudden change of employee attitude and performance at the workplace is a sign of burnout. And as a manager you should discuss it with your staff immediately to make the workplace stress-free. Therefore, sit down with your employees to find out what's bothering them. Try to identify the challenges your workers are facing and do everything you can to solve the issues. 

When you nurture the culture of talking about employee exhaustion and stress openly, workers won't hesitate to reach out whenever they feel burned out. Employees will feel less bothered by work-related problems because they're sure you'll solve them effectively. In turn, you'll notice a decline in burnout rates among your staff.

Listening is one of the best ways to address burnout and prevent it from affecting employees. While many employers and top business leaders feel they are doing an excellent job of listening to concerns raised by employees, only a few make time to check-in with workers and engage in meaningful conversations. When managers listen to work-related issues, employees are less likely to feel stressed and exhausted. 

Remember, employees feel valued when top leaders in the organization listen to their views, ideas, and concerns. As a result, they feel motivated to contribute more to achieve the company’s goals. Continuous listening helps employers show that they care about their workers through awareness, time, and attention. Engaging in conversations that celebrate achievements, setting clear expectations, eliminating barriers, and ensuring employees feel supported helps tackle and prevent burnout.

Create a wellness program

The benefits of employee wellness programs range from increased productivity to improved employee morale. Companies that incorporate wellness programs into their workplace culture attract and retain the best talent. Wellness programs also ensure workers stay healthy and safe in the workplace, as they provide stress management education, fitness activities, and resources that help workers combat mental health issues. A wellness program also shows employees how to take care of their wellbeing to avoid burnout. 

Naturally, stressed and exhausted employees are at a high risk of getting injured while on the job. That’s because they lack focus, meaning they might not identify potential health risks within their work environment.

And when an employee gets injured in the workplace, they detach from work and feel mentally exhausted, especially when they’re  seeking compensation for workplace injuries. Employees have the right to medical treatment, disability compensation if an injury prevents them from performing their work, and the right to receive compensation. So, on top of providing wellness programs, employers must ensure their workers navigate work injury compensation with ease.

Foster a culture of teamwork

Building teams in the workplace is a vital step to preventing employee burnout. When team members work together in harmony, they provide support for each other. Also, coworkers are familiar with the struggles they face everyday, which means that they may be better than a manager when it comes to providing emotional support for a worker struggling with burnout. However, employers and managers shouldn’t sit aside and wait for employees to build teams for themselves.

Instead, they should foster a culture of teamwork in the workplace. That way, employees help each other tackle tasks successfully, and everyone has someone who listens. As a manager, you can achieve this goal by encouraging employees to build teams committed to establishing lasting relationships. You should also commit to effective and frequent communication, and hold workers accountable for their role in building strong teams.

Define roles and responsibilities clearly

Supervisors and managers expose employees to burnout because they don’t describe job responsibilities clearly. Employees also feel exhausted and stressed when they take up jobs that don’t match their skill sets. If you’re a manager, avoid poor job designs because they tilt responsibilities at the workplace.

For instance, a supervisor might assign a task to someone who’s less qualified for it. This often results in employee burnout because the employee will feel pressured to provide impressive results even though they lack the capabilities and resources. Defining job responsibilities clearly helps managers assign roles to the right individuals or teams, thus eliminating performance pressure that leads to exhaustion and stress.

Focus on strength-based development and positive feedback

Another crucial step to preventing burnout at the workplace is paying attention to strength-based development and giving positive feedback. Employers who create opportunities for workers to tap into their talents or strengths and praise them for their success have low burnout rates in their organizations. 

When given a chance to explore their potential, employees become more engaged and effective because they don't see their work as a burden. Likewise, giving employees positive feedback on their job performance helps them stay engaged and feel valued. Employees also feel less stress at the workplace because feedback opens up channels of communication.

Show compassion and empathy

If you're looking to address employee burnout successfully, show compassion and empathy. It's natural to get frustrated with work and your team. Your employees may also get frustrated with you and the tasks assigned to them. But instead of looking at burnout as someone else's failure, view burnout from an empathetic lens. That way, you'll understand what your team is going through and find effective ways to get through the challenges together. 

Other ways managers demonstrate empathy and compassion to workers include thinking about what's best for employees and setting work priorities, recognizing creativity, and prioritizing mental and physical health. When determining what's best for a team, the answer will vary from one employee to another.

For some employees, taking some days off for a vacation to unplug serves their well being best. Others might want some tasks taken off their list or have their work priorities clarified. Setting work priorities can be challenging for any employer, but doing so shows that you're supportive.

Encourage work-life balance

Employees are humans and they will burn out if they have little or no time to focus on family and hobbies. With that said, encouraging employees to prioritize work-life balance should be on every employer’s agenda. As a manager, consider creating a workspace that encourages workers to take breaks frequently, meditate, and exercise. Organizations should also provide vacations and paid time off without work-related communications to allow their employees to relax and recharge.

Make work meaningful

Contrary to popular belief, employees don't work for paychecks only. They want to find purpose in the work they do in an organization. When an employee finds meaning in what they do, they connect easily with the company's mission. Typically, engaged employees appreciate their job, meaning they are less likely to feel burned out. There are several ways employers can make work meaningful besides putting an emphasis on the company's mission statement. This includes setting performance reviews that reinforce the organization's values and acting as role models. 

As a leader, you should lead by example. This trick helps to strengthen the company's values. For example, if you encourage employees to maintain a work-life balance, avoid texting or calling them late at night, or else employees will assume the company doesn't have a wellness culture. Other steps to creating purposeful jobs include connecting individual work to a higher purpose, making a first good impression throughout orientation, and empowering autonomy. 

Employee burnout is common in the modern workplace and it results from overworking, poor communication, and limited resources. When workers experience burnout, which is characterized by exhaustion and emotional stress, their performance declines, resulting in low productivity, increased absenteeism, and low profit margins. Fortunately, employers can address burnout and prevent its impact by defining job responsibilities clearly, promoting work-life balance, creating employee wellness programs, listening to employees, and encouraging open communication.

Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.

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